The End of the World…and TikTok

Against my advice and counsel, Greg Gianforte, the governor of the State of Montana, signed the TikTok bill sent to him a few weeks ago by the Montana legislature. TikTok is now officially verboten within the boundaries of the state and as of Jan. 01, 2024, any app store (or the company itself) caught downloading the app to any device in Montana will be subject to onerous penalties, up to $10, 000/download, with every day of continuation considered a separate offense.

Section 1.Prohibition — penalty — enforcement — definitions. (1) Tiktok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana. An entity violates this prohibition when any of the following occurs within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana:

(a)        the operation of tiktok by the company or users; or

(b)        the option to download the tiktok mobile application by a mobile application store.

(2)        An entity that violates a provision of this section is liable in the amount of $10,000 for each discrete violation and is liable for an additional $10,000 each day thereafter that the violation continues.

(3)        It is an affirmative defense to this section if the violating entity could not have reasonably known that the violation occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana.

(4)        Penalties under this section do not apply to law enforcement activities, national security interests and activities, security research activities, or essential government uses permitted by the governor on the information technology system of the state.

(5)        Penalties in this section do not apply to users of tiktok.

[Note: It is interesting that Subsection (1a) says that a violation occurs when a user operates the app, yet the user is not liable for penalization, Subsection (5). Only TikTok or the app provider is, which tells me that this is all about money. The typical user probably has very little money and is not worth going after, but TikTok is fabulously wealthy.]

See here, here, and here for previously posted articles on this subject

I made the following comment on Western Montana News in response to an article by Breitbart which had been posted earlier. I do not retract anything.

Yes, Montana has become the First State of Censorship on the issue of determining what “free” citizens may or may not download from, upload to, view, share, and generally participate in. Montana, where censorship is hated if it is imposed ON conservative “values” and opinions, but welcomed with open arms if imposed BY those same conservative values. How hypocritical!

More to the point, how is Montana going to enforce this edict? Will it build an electronic “fence” around the border, supposedly capable of keeping TikTok out? How will this be done? If TikTok does not have a physical presence in Montana, then what can the state do to impose fines and penalties on it? If TikTok cannot operate legally, then why should it even attempt to do so, which means that it will operate illegally.

We have had generations of history showing that prohibitions of particular products do not work, i.e., alcohol, drugs, guns, etc. The banning of TikTok will not work either, but will create new and unforeseen consequences which will manifest themselves as time goes on, generating the inevitable “need” for government to find a “solution” for the problem it created the last time it imposed its will.

Greg Gianforte cited the need to “protect” Montanans from the depredations of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). My question is this. Why do I need to have GG watching out for me? Am I not capable of taking care of myself? If I want to download TikTok onto my smart phone and use it to entertain myself, then who is anyone to tell me that I am not allowed to do that? Am I responsible for myself, or not? Am I a free person, or not? Apparently not, according to the governor who thinks that he must interject himself into my life and impose his will on me, for my own protection, of course. In principle, this is no different than the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, telling everyone that they have to give up their guns and drive electric cars because of climate change and global warming.

Now that the state can ban entities from operating because of the potential for invasion of privacy, who is next? Pre-Mom?

The TikTok ban in Montana is a done deal…for now, that is. Considering the lawsuits that will (probably) erupt over this issue, it is quite possible that a court will find the state has overstepped its authority and strike down the bill, forcing the state to drop the bill or appeal it to a higher court in the hopes that the judgement can be overturned. Either way, the taxpayers will foot the bill.

What is more important, however, are the unseen consequences. TikTok is owned by ByteDance (a Chinese company presumably with powerful connections in the CCP), which is said to be funneling personal information and data to the CCP. More than likely, any attempt to shut TikTok down will be met with retaliation in some tit-for-tat fashion. What is to prevent the Chinese government from barring Facebook or another American social media platform from operating in any particular region within the country? What if the CCP decided to throttle back Google with the pronouncement that it was “stealing” the personal data of Chinese citizens and transferring that data to the US government? This could very easily be done under the guise of “protecting citizen’s rights”. Since the US considers China to be an adversary, an event of this nature would be seen negatively, inspiring calls to “punish” the CCP, thus ratcheting up the tensions between the two nations. Who knows? Perhaps the US government will decide to turn up the heat by sending more warships through the Taiwan Strait to enforce freedom of navigation rules. All in the name of defending the “free world”, of course.

If you think I have a few screws loose, then consider this.

“In retaliation over a sweeping US ban on selling advanced chip-making technology to China, Beijing is now banning major Chinese firms from doing business with Micron Technology, claiming that its products pose a ‘major national-security risk,’ the Wall Street Journal reports.”

Actions have reactions. While they may not follow Newton’s Third Law exactly, there can be no doubt that what happens today will lead to events tomorrow. This is true everywhere and applies to everything. Adversarial relations which constantly push the envelope of provocation eventually end up in confrontation, very often violent. In today’s political climate, whether East or West, this confrontation might go nuclear and condemn all of us to a miserable future.

Or radioactive, incinerating, agonizing death from which there is no escape.

2 thoughts on “The End of the World…and TikTok

  1. So Tik Tok is funneling information to China. I have less to fear from the CCP having my info than I do from any US government entity having it.

  2. Bionic,

    I think we have more to fear from these two behemoths duking it out over who gets to have access to our information. It could easily escalate into something really nasty.

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